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Mon, Oct 11, 2010
The New Paper
Is he the man behind Temasek Review?

By Ng Wan Ching

NEWS website Temasek Review has earned a reputation for its sharply critical views of the Government.

But the person behind the website has remained a mystery to the public - until now.

Despite his attempts to remain anonymous, a smear campaign he launched against Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah proved to be his undoing.

After finding out about the incident, The New Paper, through its checks, has learnt of his identity.

The man behind Temasek Review and some of its most caustic articles, often posted anonymously, is Dr Joseph Ong Chor Teck.

The medical doctor works at a clinic that is part of a chain here.

Dr Ong admitted he was the man behind posters which showed Ms Lee's photograph on the cover of a toilet bowl, with lines below it imploring Khatib residents to ask the MP to step down as the president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA).

Among the words were "Jamban MP", a term coined after an exchange between NCMP Sylvia Lim and Ms Lee, who used the word "jamban" (Malay for toilet) to make a point during a Budget debate in Parliament in 2007.

The poster appeared around Block 868 Yishun Street 81 in May last year, around the time the STTA refused to nominate former national head coach Liu Guodong, who led the women's team to a historic Olympic silver medal in 2008, for the Singapore Sports Awards.

A man had approached a Bangladeshi cleaner for help to put up the posters.

The New Paper tracked down the worker through his colleagues.

The worker, who wanted to be known only as Ali, confirmed that he had helped to put up the posters but said he had no clue what they were about.

He said: "He asked for my help to put up about 100 posters around the RC (resident's committee) corner, the barbecue area and some lamp-posts.

"I told him I was busy and couldn't spare the 10 minutes he had asked for but he kept pleading, so I finally agreed."

He described the man as a medium-built Chinese in his late 20s or early 30s with fair complexion. Ali, who has been working for the town council for six years, said he was questioned by police following the incident.

RC members who turned up early for a brisk walk event at 7am spotted the posters and removed them before Ms Lee showed up.

The former chairman of Zone F, Nee Soon South, then made a police report.

When contacted, he confirmed the report and said that action was taken.

"It's all in the past now so I don't think there's a need to go over old ground," he said and declined to elaborate.

The New Paper understands that police investigations led them to Dr Ong, who was then called in to give statements.

Dr Ong confessed to getting the posters placed around Yishun Street 81.

The New Paper understands that he also identified himself to the police as being the founder of Wayang Party and later, Temasek Review.

Dr Ong was again called in about two months ago.

A police spokesman said: "In response to media queries, police confirmed that a subject was administered a conditional stern warning on Sept 3 for the offence of intentional harassment."

A conditional warning requires, among other things, that the offender must maintain a clean record for a specified period, typically about 12 months.

If he commits another offence, he can be charged with the new offence as well as the previous one.

Closed down

Soon after police started investigating the matter, Wayang Party was closed down and Temasek Review was launched.

By then, word had gone around the Yishun estate that a medical doctor was implicated in the poster saga.

Dr Ong graduated in 2004 and had worked with the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) before taking on his present job as a GP for a Healthway Medical Group clinic in Sengkang.

An ex-Raffles Junior College student, Dr Ong is described as a quiet and reserved man by friends.

When approached at his clinic on Thursday, Dr Ong looked surprised that The New Paper had learnt of the warning he had received.

He said: "How do you know about the warning? How do you know about the case? I was told it would be confidential. As long as it did not make it to court, it would be confidential."

When The New Paper asked him about Temasek Review, he blinked and said: "The case is not supposed to be made public. As long as you put my name in your paper, I will sue you."

He asked this reporter to leave the clinic and threatened to call the police.

When The New Paper contacted Ms Lee for comments on the poster incident, she replied in an SMS that the issue was water under the bridge for her.

About two hours after he was approached, Dr Ong called The New Paper and threatened to take legal action.

That night, a posting appeared on Temasek Review purportedly written by an Amanda Tan revealing specific details that emerged in the interview between The New Paper and Dr Ong.

Posting removed

At 7pm yesterday, the posting was removed.

Dr Ong again called the The New Paper after 7pm yesterday to say that he has nothing to do with Temasek Review, other than being a reader.

But some time later, he called and said he was no longer the webmaster of Temasek Review.

When asked whether that meant he was once the webmaster, he declined to answer.

He asked that we e-mail him questions so he could put everything on record.

We sent him five questions, but he answered only three.

The two questions he refused to answer were:

Did you start the Temasek Review?

Did you start and close down Wayang Party?

He said he did not want to answer questions that were not pertinent to the "Jamban MP" affair.

Asked why he carried out the poster campaign against Ms Lee, Dr Ong said: "I have nothing personal against Ms Lee Bee Wah.

"I just felt strongly she should resign as President of STTA after what had happened under her watch. That's all."

He denied having any political affiliations. He also said he's not politically motivated.

He added: "The STTA fiasco has nothing to do with politics. I am only asking her to step down as President of STTA, not as a MP."

In an earlier phone interview, when asked to deny that he's the founder of Temasek Review and Wayang Party, Dr Ong refused to respond.

 

>> Next: Little known about people behind news site

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